Beyond the walls

Members of eight local places of faith take their desire to serve the community outside the walls of their buildings, creating innovative and effective programs that help everyone from children and youth to the homeless to the unemployed.



(page 1 of 4)

A vision beyond church walls

Greater Cornerstone Baptist Church

Pastor Willard Jones knew he faced some challenges when he became pastor of Greater Cornerstone Baptist Church in 1996. Located in the South Haven area of west Tulsa, the small church existed in the midst of decline and poverty.

“This was an impoverished area with drug dealers and gang bangers taking over the streets,” says Jones, a pastor’s son whose career included stints as an educator and businessman.

Fortunately, a few years later, South Haven got a lot of help when law enforcement began a decisive battle against crime. With the streets largely swept clean, Jones realized that there was a window of opportunity to transform the area before it slid back into trouble.

“At that point, we were faced with the question of, what is the church going to do for the people of this area?” Jones says. “What kind of hope could we give? So, rather than move out of the community, we decided to make it better.”

About six years ago, the idea arose of what will soon become The Greater Cornerstone Community Center (a formal name is yet to be decided).
Phil Taylor, a friend of Jones and pastor of west Tulsa’s Carbondale Assembly of God, remembers how Jones and others prayed about the project.

“We would pray together that there would be community transformation for that area and all of west Tulsa,” Taylor says. “We wanted to see it turn around and that God would intervene in a powerful way. I think we’re seeing an answer to those prayers now.”

That answer may well be the $7.2 million center, which is expected to open next June, offering South Haven’s low-income residents a wide range of services and recreation. The facility will house branches of Domestic Violence Intervention Services, Family & Children’s Services, Goodwill Industries of Tulsa and others.

“It’s going to be a one-stop shop,” Jones says. “We provide the space for these agencies to do what they do best. The people need them. We’re talking about an area where 20 percent of households live in poverty with an annual income of $12,000 to $14,000. That’s poverty.”

Jones and his church of several hundred members led the charge for the 20,000-square-foot center, acquiring funding from foundations, corporations, other churches and individuals.

The motivation for Jones and Greater Cornerstone is simple.

“God is love, and you can’t confine the love of God to (being inside) church,” he says. “You’ve got to take it out to people. People want to see a sermon, not just hear a sermon, and I believe that is what we’re doing here. That is our rule and our charge, to go beyond the walls of the church.”

Groceries fill the hunger gap

Guts Church

When members of Guts Church heard that Oklahoma is one of the hungriest and most food-insecure states in the nation (fourth in the number of people who are “very low food insecure,” according to the USDA), they knew they had to do something about it.

“We looked at the stats and thought we ought to be doing something about it,” says Taylor Scheer, son of church founders and lead pastors Bill and Sandy Scheer.

With more than 5,000 members, Guts responded in September 2010 with a program simply called Friday Groceries. Every Friday, needy Tulsans line up by the hundreds in front of the church’s distribution center off the Broken Arrow Expressway near Memorial Drive.

There they receive enough food to provide a family of four with three meals for four days. Scheer says that about 1,000 families receive assistance through Friday Groceries each week. In addition to food, they can get gently used clothing, furniture, toys and household items from the Guts church thrift store for minimal prices, and they can dine on a free lunch while they are there.

That’s what Adrian Martinez; his wife, Mindy; and their three children were doing after picking up their groceries.

Adrian Martinez was laid off from his job as a crate builder last year, and his wife supports the family on her meager earnings as a warehouse worker.

“We’re so grateful for this,” Mindy Martinez says. “It takes a lot of weight off our shoulders since money is so tight.”

With breadwinners in many families having been laid off, while others are scraping by on a single low-wage job, Guts helps families get by until better times arrive.

“Meeting the needs of the working poor is a big issue,” Scheer says. “A lot of these people work, but it’s just not enough.”

About 20 to 30 volunteers from Guts (volunteers don’t have to be Guts members) help run Friday Groceries, and they strive to make it a positive and dignified experience for all who come. The church supports the program and food also comes from outside sources, such as the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.

“We want to give them hope,” Scheer says. “This is the kind of work the church should be doing. We want to fix the jaded perception of the religious church and just be here to help people.”

Saved by God to serve others

Antioch Baptist Church

The motto at north Tulsa’s Antioch Baptist Church is, “The church that triumphs.” The Rev. M.C. Potter knows that phrase is empty unless his church gets out and makes a difference in the surrounding community, which too often is marked by violence and other social problems.

“The reason we get involved is because we have so many concerns in our community, especially with our young people,” says Potter, who has served as Antioch’s pastor for 31 years. “We’ve got problems with teenage pregnancy, gangs, low grades, struggling family relations, so we have got to deal with that.”

One way the church deals with these problems is through its summer youth program, which began in 2003. The five-day-a-week program gives children and teens a safe and fun place to go, where participants can swim, try out karate and receive social and spiritual enrichment. But it’s far from just a place to fill kids’ time or keep them busy with recreation. With the help of tutors, the program is designed to give kids supplemental instruction in reading and math so they can return to school with their skills intact. Last year, during the program’s first summer, 204 children in the first through ninth grades attended the program.

The program aims to stimulate young people’s ambitions and dreams by taking participants to visit various professionals in the community, such as judges, who tell them how the legal system works; organizations, such as the Tulsa Gang Task Force, where they learn from experts about gang intervention; and the Tulsa Health Department to learn about health care, Potter says.

Potter admits that one of the challenges is changing the way some kids think.

“We’re trying to help them see beyond their own little world and that they need to make a contribution,” he says. “They can’t just live for themselves.”

Antioch, with a Sunday attendance of about 400, also provides ACT training for high school students and will help pay for the exams, which are key to college and university admission.

Church members are expected to give back in some way, Potter says.

“I ask each member to give two days of vacation to volunteer for the summer program,” says Potter, whose father, also a pastor, inspired him to be active in the community. “My dad set the precedent when I came back to Tulsa years ago, and he took me to Comanche Park Apartments to start a basketball program for the youths there.”

Since 1977, Antioch has continued to run a basketball ministry, seeking to steer teens away from gangs and other negative influences. On top of these outreaches, Antioch provides low-income students with school uniforms and other clothing and has adopted the Northgate community of north Tulsa to “provide whatever they need,” Potter says.

“I personally believe that when God saves you, he saves you from a particular concern, and now that you’ve been saved, you need to go and help save others,” Potter says. “I think that’s the way God set it up.”

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More information

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Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $8-$18

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Telephone: 918-495-6000
Website »

More information

A leading figure in both contemporary film and art, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (born 1970) has developed a singular, realist-surrealist style in which the portrayal of the everyday alongside...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 ages 13+, $4 ages 3-12. Kids 2 and under free

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
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Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

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Cost: 0.00

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View map »


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More information

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Cost: free

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mainline art bar
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tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 191-870-43330
Contact Name: katy eagleston

More information

It's a girl thing. Tulsa Metro Sound a cappella Show Chorus presents a Chocolate Remix. Come see what fun things we do weekly as we live, laugh and love our music. If you want to rekindle...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Christ Church Episcopal
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View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Metro Sound
Telephone: 918-352-6091
Contact Name: Candace C
Website »

More information

Two O'clock Four O'clock Productions and The Nightingale Theater are proud to announce "Young Sheldon On Ice", an evening of sketch comedy written by infamous comedian and...

Cost: $8 at the door

Where:
Nightingale Theater
1416 E. 4th St.
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View map »


Sponsor: Two O'clock Four O'clock Productions
Contact Name: Jack Allen

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

A leading figure in both contemporary film and art, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (born 1970) has developed a singular, realist-surrealist style in which the portrayal of the everyday alongside...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

The work of renowned artist Christopher Curtis will be featured at Tulsa Botanic Garden’s first sculpture exhibit March 17 through August 26. Curtis works primarily in stone and he often...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 ages 13+, $4 ages 3-12. Kids 2 and under free

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $8-$18

Where:
J.L. Johnson Stadium
7777 S Lewis Ave
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View map »


Telephone: 918-495-6000
Website »

More information

The Champions of Health awards recognize those who make a difference in the health of Oklahomans. Winners in select categories will receive $5,000 for their organization or program, and will be...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
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1700 NE 63rd St.
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Sponsor: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma
Telephone: 918-551-2164
Contact Name: Ellen Devereux

More information

C'mon out and be a part of the fun and energy of this multi-media exhibit but Tulsan Sarah Sullivan.  We'll have live music, light refreshments, full bar and Oklahoma art! Bio...

Cost: free

Where:
mainline art bar
111 n main street
tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 191-870-43330
Contact Name: katy eagleston

More information

It's a girl thing. Tulsa Metro Sound a cappella Show Chorus presents a Chocolate Remix. Come see what fun things we do weekly as we live, laugh and love our music. If you want to rekindle...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Metro Sound
Telephone: 918-352-6091
Contact Name: Candace C
Website »

More information

Two O'clock Four O'clock Productions and The Nightingale Theater are proud to announce "Young Sheldon On Ice", an evening of sketch comedy written by infamous comedian and...

Cost: $8 at the door

Where:
Nightingale Theater
1416 E. 4th St.
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View map »


Sponsor: Two O'clock Four O'clock Productions
Contact Name: Jack Allen

More information

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Plant sales, exhibits and kid zone Everything you'd like to know about increasing the Monarch population and gardening for butterflies and pollinators! Presentations by Sandy Schwinn,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Exchange Center, Tulsa Fairgrounds, Gate 12 @ 21st
4145 E. 21st St.
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: Tulsa Master Gardeners
Telephone: 918-746-3701
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The work of renowned artist Christopher Curtis will be featured at Tulsa Botanic Garden’s first sculpture exhibit March 17 through August 26. Curtis works primarily in stone and he often...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 ages 13+, $4 ages 3-12. Kids 2 and under free

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
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 This championship is a three day event taking place at J.L. Johnson Stadium. For tickets and more information visit MabeeCenter.com

Cost: $8-$18

Where:
J.L. Johnson Stadium
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
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Telephone: 918-495-6000
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A leading figure in both contemporary film and art, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (born 1970) has developed a singular, realist-surrealist style in which the portrayal of the everyday alongside...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Join Tiny Things by Bowen at the Cottage Art Gallery for a two hour polymer clay class in which each crafter will create 3 tiny clay succulents to take home!

Cost: $30.00

Where:
The Cottage Art Gallery
1443 S Gary Ave
Tulsa, OK  74104
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Sponsor: Tiny Things by Bowen
Telephone: 918-973-4089
Contact Name: Sarah Bowen
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C'mon out and be a part of the fun and energy of this multi-media exhibit but Tulsan Sarah Sullivan.  We'll have live music, light refreshments, full bar and Oklahoma art! Bio...

Cost: free

Where:
mainline art bar
111 n main street
tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: 191-870-43330
Contact Name: katy eagleston

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It's a girl thing. Tulsa Metro Sound a cappella Show Chorus presents a Chocolate Remix. Come see what fun things we do weekly as we live, laugh and love our music. If you want to rekindle...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Christ Church Episcopal
10901 South Yale Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: Tulsa Metro Sound
Telephone: 918-352-6091
Contact Name: Candace C
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The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) hosts a Swing dance and lessons  The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) is the only UNESCO recognized dance organization in Oklahoma.  We are a 501c3...

Cost: $7

Where:
Community Center - South Minister Presby Church
3500 So Peoria
1/2 west of Peoria, on 35pl behind the church
Tulsa, OK  74102
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Sponsor: The Ok Swing Syndicate
Telephone: 918-450-691
Contact Name: Rita Robbins
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Two O'clock Four O'clock Productions and The Nightingale Theater are proud to announce "Young Sheldon On Ice", an evening of sketch comedy written by infamous comedian and...

Cost: $8 at the door

Where:
Nightingale Theater
1416 E. 4th St.
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Sponsor: Two O'clock Four O'clock Productions
Contact Name: Jack Allen

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TULtalk


QUIZ: Which Renaissance Festival Character Are You?

In another life, perhaps you were a fair princess or a noble knight... or perhaps you were the village fool!

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7 Reasons to Love Mayfest

The 46th annual art festival set for May 17-20

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Discovery Lab makes house calls

The lab’s nano exhibition will travel to nine THA family housing communities in 18 months, spending six to eight weeks at each site.

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QUIZ: Which May Festival Are You?

May is here, and so is festival season! Which one of Tulsa's late spring shindigs do you personify?

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QUIZ: Which Oklahoma Proven Plant Are You?

Are you a pretty pink petunia or a wild and crazy shrubbery? Find out in this quiz!

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